Those who work in physical careers, including construction, road work and even manufacturing, face serious risks at work. Whether it’s machinery or heights, there are a lot of ways for a worker to get injured.
During summer months, there is another risk factor that many workers overlook. Heatstroke, which happens when your body reaches dangerously high temperatures, is much more common during summer months. Also called sunstroke, this condition can be life threatening if not treated immediately by medical professionals. It is not something workers and employers should ignore.
There are a range of safety requirements in place to protect workers from summer heat. The Occupational Safety and Healthy Administration (OSHA) has recommendations for shade and access to clean drinking water for workers under the summer sun. Unfortunately, not even OSHA can protect workers from the glaring sun or staggeringly high temperatures that occur inside manufacturing facilities during summer months.
If your employer hasn’t taken steps to reduce your risk of heatstroke, it could result in a workers’ compensation claim. Knowing the risk factors for and symptoms of heat stroke can help keep you and your co-workers safe during the sweltering summer months.
Heatstroke is a serious medical event
Heatstroke is most common in workers over the age of 50, but it can affect anyone. In fact, even young athletes at the peak of their physical abilities could fall victim to heatstroke. People who experience heatstroke may experience fainting episodes, heat cramps and heat exhaustion before full-blown heatstroke sets in. Heatstroke is generally defined as having a body core temperature of 104 degree Fahrenheit or more. It causes problems with the nervous system, including potential brain damage. Risk factors include sun exposure, dehydration and extreme heat in your work environment.
Those suffering from heatstroke could experience a host of symptoms. These include confusion or disorientation, nausea, loss of consciousness and even seizures. Before the most extreme symptoms show up, however, lower-level symptoms will likely be present.
-Dizziness or light-headedness
-Powerful, throbbing headaches
-Cessation of sweating despite high temperatures
-Shallow and rapid breathing
-Unusually fast heartbeat
-Stronger or weaker than normal pulse
-Staggering or fainting
-Red, hot dry skin
If you or someone you work with experiences these symptoms, you should seek immediate emergency medical help. Failing to do so could result in permanent damage or even death.
While waiting for medical help, administer first aid. This may include removing the victim from direct sunlight or the hot environment, using a fan while wetting down the skin of the victim to help cool him or her and apply ice packs to key regions, like the armpits, groin, neck or back. If the victim is young and healthy, you can also try submerging the whole body in an ice bath.